By Carolyn Bower
Five decades have come and gone since the psychedelic sounds, peace signs, and masses of concert-goers descended upon Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, NY.
Woodstock 69 was a once-in-a-lifetime event that not only remains etched in music history, but continues to serve as a reminder of the atmosphere of the time.
Because, in the midst of racial tensions, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, there was still hope for better times. Woodstock’s music reflected the changing times, running the gamut from soulful ballads to protest songs to heavy metal.
While many are familiar with Woodstock, some people may not know the festival site has become much more than a part of rock history. Max Yasgur passed away in the 1970s and, in 1996, billionaire Alan Gerry created the Gerry Foundation to improve and revitalize the area.
The Foundation purchased the original 37-acre festival field, along with hundreds of acres surrounding it. Soon, the Bethel Center for the Arts became a reality. It includes a 7,500 square-foot main stage called the Pavilion, with 4,500 covered seats and a sloping lawn for 10,500 people. The outdoor Terrace Stage has space for 1,000 people, and the Woodstock Festival Field can accommodate 30,000.
The Center also features classrooms, a 440-seat indoor Event Gallery, and the 132-seat Museum Theater. The Theater has news and special effects from that time, including a chance to sit in the Magic Bus, which is surrounded by huge floor-to-ceiling screens.
There’s also a museum, filled with exhibits and artifacts from both Woodstock and the 1960s. And, through agreements with local professional artists, the Center even provides ample opportunities for artists to interact with audiences of all ages.
Concerts in a wide range of genres are scheduled through September. And these concerts aren’t just for baby boomers who remember the 1960s and Woodstock!
There is a special “Family Zone” area on the general admission lawn for most events, free of alcoholic beverages, smoking, and inappropriate language, so that all ages can experience Woodstock comfortably.
The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts will commemorate the August 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival with a weekend of events and concerts August 15-18.
1969’s Woodstock carries with it the memories of peace signs and great music. The sights and sounds of that time still echo at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
Visit the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts online at https://www.bethelwoodscenter.org